Very short acquisition times and the increasing use of low-kilovolt protocols in standard computed tomographic (CT) angiography (CTA) examinations demand modifications in the contrast media (CM) injection regimen. The aim of this study was to optimize the use of tube voltage–adjusted CM delivery parameters, especially injection duration and iodine delivery rate (IDR), in thoracoabdominal CTA in a porcine model.
Materials and Methods
Eight pigs (53–72 kg) were examined with a third-generation dual-source CT system with a dynamic CTA protocol (4-dimensional spiral, 454-mm scan length, 2.5-second temporal resolution, 70-second total acquisition time). Six CM injection protocols were applied in randomized order and intraindividually compared. The standard CTA protocol was performed at 120 kV, with an injection of 300 mg iodine/kg body weight and a flow of 5 mL/s (IDR, 1.5 g/s). On the basis of phantom measurements for the low-kilovolt CTA protocols, the iodine dosage was adjusted to 150 mg iodine/kg (70 kV) and 210 mg iodine/kg (90 kV). Therefore, either the IDR was kept constant and the injection time was reduced, or the injection time was kept constant and the IDR was reduced by modifying the CM flow or concentration. Time attenuation curves, time to peak, and peak enhancement were calculated for different locations within the aorta, renal arteries, and large veins.
The heart rates were comparable among the different injection protocols (66.9–78.1 beats per minute). The average injection peak pressure depended on the flow rate and CM concentration and ranged from 42.9 to 114.7 psi. The average arterial peak enhancement was comparable for protocols with identical injection times and reduced IDR (362.4 HU [standard 120-kV protocol; 300 mg iodine/kg; IDR, 1.5 g/s], 360.0 HU [70 kV; 150 mg iodine/kg; IDR, 0.75 g/s], 365.4 HU [70 kV; 150 mg iodine/kg; IDR, 0.75 g/s; CM, 150 mg iodine/mL], 344.3 HU [90 kV; 210 mg iodine/kg; IDR, 1.1 g/s]). Higher peak enhancements could be achieved by applying protocols with identical IDR and a reduced injection time (502.5 HU [70 kV; 150 mg iodine/kg; IDR, 1.5 g/s] and 394.6 HU [90 kV; 210 mg iodine/kg; IDR, 1.5 g/s]).
By adjusting the IDR, low-kilovolt CTA is able to achieve comparable aortic enhancement with a significant reduction in CM dosage. A shorter injection time at constant IDR results in higher enhancement and a narrower scan window and might be preferable for fast CTA acquisition techniques.
The optimization of CM injection protocols is mandatory to achieve state-of the art CTA at low kilovolt and can reduce CM doses to patients.